Niagara Falls – Taking a field trip or implementing a virtual field trip

This summer, I had the unique opportunity to explore Niagara Falls and all the beauty is had to offer.  I was truly overwhelmed.  Even though I live and work within a 20 minute drive of the Falls, I rarely get the opportunity to take time to explore the area.  As a middle school educator, I kept thinking – WHAT A GREAT FIELD TRIP!  If you can’t make a visit to the falls, check out this Niagara Falls mini-unit plan that will bring you an your students a little closer!

For those who might have the opportunity, there is so much to do on both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls.  Since we toured the American side, I’ll let you know about its highlights.

First, is the Cave of the Winds tour.  This takes place off Goat Island, beside the Falls.  It gives the visitor the opportunity to walk next to, and at times, almost directly underneath the falls, feeling its power. See the visitor’s link here.

cave of the windsPan Am 320Pan Am 324

Next, we took a trip on the Maid of the Mist.  This is a boat ride that departs off the base Terrapin Station and takes you to the base of both the American and Canadian Falls.  It is truly beautiful.  Here is the link.

They do sell a 5 pack for admission to a trolley tour, walk out onto the pier, and a movie, but both of these activities can be time consuming and are NOT TO BE MISSED.

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However, I know it is impossible for some schools to visit Niagara Falls.  So, I have created a unit to meet NYS CCLS and engage themselves with the historical context and power of Niagara Falls.  Please use these photographs in your lesson (free to use even commercially).

How Niagara Falls Helped Light America!

Historical Context: 1901 – Buffalo Pan Am Exposition. Students will learn how hydroelectric power generated from Niagara Falls amazed America when Buffalo was the “City of Light” and center of America’s progress in electricity.

Time frame: 3 lessons – In this three day lesson, the students will complete a close reading activity on a piece of informational text to learn about the history of hydroelectric power. They will use the information from this article to form an opinion defending the industrialist or preservationist during this time. Then, they will complete a virtual field trip on iPads, where they will observe and study different locations that were essential in hydroelectric power. Finally, their assessment with be a writing activity of their choice.

Subjects: ELA, Social Studies, Science

Students will have the opportunity to work cooperatively to answer “right there” and inferential questions based on a piece of informational text. Use iPads to explore Niagara Falls in 1901 utilizing a QR Code activity, and complete a RAFT writing task of their choice for assessment. Photographs are original, taken July 2015 that can be uploaded into a PowerPoint presentation to enhance lesson.

Here is a picture of the hydroelectric power plants that remain today:

Pan Am 392

More photographs available HERE

I have many related activities available centered around Buffalo’s Pan American Exposition.  Here is a freebie of a QR activity relating to the Children of the Pan.

I also have task cards and a QR Code Scavenger Hunt dealing with different aspects of the Pan American Exposition, including Niagara Falls.  However, the Pan An Exposition is another blog entirely.  More on that to come in the near future including:    Louise Bethune – first female architect
Pan Am – photography as art
Forest Lawn Cemetery
Children of the Pan
Buffalo’s Millionaire’s Row
The Darwin Martin House
US Presidents – Cleveland, McKinley, and Teddy Roosevelt

Follow this blog for exciting, interactive ideas, activities and lesson plans designed for middle/high school.  My husband and I are social studies and ELA teachers respectively and have a combined 38 years of experience!  Have a great school year.

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